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UCLA scientists develop record-setting hydrogel coating

Scientists at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science developed a record-setting hydrogel that prevents materials from freezing under subzero temperatures. It can be applied to surfaces such as external components of airplanes, the study said. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Eshan Uniyal

Feb. 5, 2020 12:31 a.m.

UCLA material scientists developed a record-setting coating that prevents the formation of ice at subzero temperatures, according to a new study published Jan. 29.

The new hydrogel coating prevents ice from forming at temperatures as low as -31 degrees Celsius, or -23.8 degrees Fahrenheit, on plastic, glass, ceramics and metals. It also set a record for the longest time elapsed before ice formed at subzero temperatures, according to the study.

Inspired in part by the biological mechanisms that prevent the blood of some Antarctic fish species from freezing, the coating is composed primarily of water and the polymer polydimethylsiloxane.

The three ways in which the coating prevents ice formation are by lowering the temperature at which ice freezes on the surface, slowing the growth of ice crystals and making it harder for ice to stick to the surface.

The study was published in the scientific journal Matter and suggests the simplicity, durability and versatility of the hydrogel make it suitable for a wide range of applications, such as preventing the formation of ice on the exposed components of airplanes.

Ximin He, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, was an author of the study. The research group was comprised of other material scientists in the School of Engineering in collaboration with academics from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

The study also received contributions from Jianjun Wang from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who led the research group that developed the coating that set the previous record for preventing ice formation.

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Eshan Uniyal
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